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Practical Economic Considerations of Clinical Nuclear Magnetic Resonance

William G. Bradley Jr, MD, PhD
JAMA. 1984;251(10):1302-1303. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03340340042025.
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Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) has generated more excitement and more confusion in the medical community than any other new technology in recent memory. Nuclear magnetic resonance has been applied to certain areas of clinical imaging where it competes favorably with computed tomography (CT) and ultrasound. It has been applied in research laboratories as a spectroscopic technique where it provides in vivo information about tissue metabolism. Where each of these applications of NMR fits into the general framework of medical diagnosis is yet to be determined. Even after such a medical determination has been made, various economic factors will ultimately determine if NMR will gain widespread use.

Currently, NMR can image the body in thin tomographic slices in either the axial, sagittal, or coronal planes. The intensity of the NMR signal is determined by tissue hydrogen density and by the two magnetic relaxation times T1 and T2. Submillimeter spatial resolution has


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